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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

The Golden Gate as a boutique property

4 April 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- In the future, Golden Gate casino owner Mark Brandenburg sees his 107-room property attracting Strip customers who are increasingly frustrated and exhausted by the size and scope of the Strip's ever-growing megaresort empire.

He also sees more folks priced out of luxury resorts who are looking for alternatives.

"I think there's people who can afford to go to the Strip who don't want to deal with the 5,000-room hotel and who like to be able to park their car and take ten steps into the casino," said Brandenburg, who sold a half interest in the property to an affiliate of Desert Rock Enterprises last month.

While that's been said before, the Golden Gate is banking on its unique history as Las Vegas' oldest hotel and a new infusion of capital from Desert Rock into a remodeling project to stand out.

The longtime home of 99-cent shrimp cocktails – among several aging downtown joints getting makeovers in recent years – will debut the room and casino remodel, featuring Art Nouveau designs, in August. Employees will be expected to attend to guests more closely, like they did in the pre-megaresort era, Brandenburg said.

The strategy: play up the casino's colorful past (Its new slot program is named Club 1906 after the year it opened, for example) while adopting a more elegant and contemporary look.

Desert Rock is owned by brothers Derek and Greg Stevens, a Detroit manufacturing family that also bought the 51s, Las Vegas' Triple-A baseball team, last month and hopes to revamp the franchise with a new stadium and team name. The company is also a major shareholder in the holding company of the Riviera casino on the Strip.